25.3 miles hiked
Wake up wake up! It’s Colorado Trail Day!
We’re up and out by 7am, getting a ride to Waterton Canyon, and on the trail just before 8am.
It’s strange having a trail head so close to the city, so close to houses. The trail is a dirt road for the first 6.6 miles, following the Platte river with lots of pavilions and pit toilets dotted along the roadside.
The signs veer us off the road and onto a trail heading up the hill – the first proper trail of the colorado trail! We wind up the mountain through trees, bees and wildflowers, crossing lots of mini ribbons of creeks. We pass a lot of hikers too – they remind me of the hikers on the JMT. The PCT and JMT share a trail through the Sierra; the JMT hikers always have giant giant packs, brand new gear, and too much food with which they love to weigh down the hungry hungry PCT hikers. Win win 😉
For the first time this year I’m feeling fast! We pass little groups and pairs of hikers. I want to give them pack shakedowns as a lot are not looking happy with their heavy heavy packs. My ego is definitely happy with the CT decision. It’s ridiculous and means absolutely nothing, but I allow my head to swell nonetheless.
Overhead clouds are rumbling and grumbling. This is not good news- I ditched my heavy goretex rain gear (that I was carrying through Glacier) in Denver and my new gear won’t get to me until we get to Jefferson in 3 days time. They start to spit a little and I run faster and faster down the switchbacks to the river. There is a toilet there which means at least a little awning to hide under. It starts raining harder and I run down down until I’m there. Under the awning is the most revolting collection of rubbish I’ve ever seen at a trailhead. There are 3 overflowing garbage bags, another inside the room, as well as things no one ever needs to see smeared on the floor and seat. It’s bucketing down and the awning has just enough room for us to hide for 10 minutes while this cloud explodes.
The rain has done it’s afternoon thing, we gingerly step back onto the trail, cross the river and collect some water – our last for 13 miles.
Climbing up the mountain, the trail spits us out into a burn area. Very exposed. Very hot. Gah I knew I should have taken more water. I start getting worn out from the sun, but keep plodding on and miraculously keep passing people. We pass 17 hikers in total (although one sneaky bugger trotted past as we were making dinner).
Our arbitrarily chosen campsite mile is crappy for camping, so we keep going a little ways and find a spot that will do. We’ve turned into bougie campers and have added a stove to our arsenal, so it’s hot Kathmandu curry for dinner tonight! Nom nom.
After dinner we lie in the tent with the rain fly off, listening to Lord Huron, Mumford, Lumineers, and somehow Warren G, watching the clouds turn into animals and fairies and blobs of nothing as we melt into our sleeping pads.
Just as the last pink and orange light is fading away from the clouds, the yip yip of coyotes starts up not too far away. Oooh I’ve missed them yipping me to sleep! It sounds like a full family outing- so many different voices joining in the chorus.
Goodnight coyotes! Goodnight world!